Weird trick for church growth that church gatekeepers hate!!
(part 2 of Gossip and Fake news)
I might get repetitive stress injury from my kvetching, but I want to continue to talk about gossip. This time I will be more specific to the needs of the church - gossip is the antithesis of a growing church. My previous thinking about gossip was to endure and to do well, and it would work out…but a closer reading of scripture tells a different story. The weird trick is that there is no weird trick. It takes work to love each other in community.
I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
It does not matter if you did or didn’t do something. If someone is out to getcha, counterintuitively, you go to them and figure it out. At the same time, if you are the dealer of gossip, it will not go well for your spiritual life. I thought an “open door” policy could fix gossip by just waiting for someone to come and hash it out. You know it is WJWD (notice not WWJD), but it is clearly not.
God is calling me / us to press into hard spots of life, even if gossip is a compelete fabrication. You reach out to those who are talking smack to you, and even then it still may not work out. But you have fulfilled God’s invitation to be an agent of peace. Even if the peace is not received and it still stinks– do it anyway. As they say in the military, “embrace the suck”.
When attacked, we tend to either lash out or clam up, but scripture does not allow for either. It calls us to engage and lean into the sharp edges of human relationship. No one is a superhero, so maybe what I had previously thought - quiet resignation - does not make it better. So, get up, get out, and love those that make you crazy. That is the weird trick that is not really a weird trick; it is the Gospel.
This is the secret to a growing church. We have a great God and a great message. Let’s not punch holes in the church because of gossip. Outside forces are hard enough on the church without us gnawing and biting each other. When someone else is taking potshots, let’s work to peacefully engage the gossip shooter, even if it does not work out. Even better, let’s not keep feeding ammo to them. We can break the chain of gossip that unchecked becomes a prison.
I will leave you with a poem.
My name is Gossip
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing.
I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
I flourish at every level of society.
My victims are helpless.
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible.
The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody's friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and ruin marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses.
I AM CALLED GOSSIP.